BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The McKinley High School community spoke up loud and clear Tuesday night about wanting a brand new school, and many say they're not settling for less.
There were some heated moments at the meeting as parents, teachers, and alumni sparred with school system leaders. McKinley High has been around for 100 years, and they say a brand new school is overdue.
The issue is the school system's plan to renovate the school. At the meeting, East Baton Rouge Superintendent Warren Drake promised $35 million worth of work. The current plan would incorporate the neighboring campus of Buchanan Elementary to add several new buildings, including a middle school. But McKinley supporters want the entire high school rebuilt and renovated like Lee High, Baton Rouge High, and Istrouma. The money will come from a 1-cent sales tax renewal vote in April.
"They're asking us to vote for something and they can't tell us exactly how much it's going to cost. They can't show us any rendering of what they plan to do, so they've not really determined by doing a proper investigation that a new McKinley High School is not feasible," said Judge John Michael Guidry, McKinley Class of 1980.
"We're going to leave the two academic wings that have been renovated in the last ten years. Those are strong, good buildings. We are going to tear down most of the other buildings, add a middle school, 7th, 8th and 9th grade building, a new cafeteria, new media center, and just upgrade the entire campus and just reconfigure it on two campuses. It's going to be dynamic, 21st century buildings," said Drake.
The superintendent says more specifics on the plan will be available soon. He's confident McKinley supporters will be pleased with that final draft. A spokesperson with the East Baton Rouge School System outlined the current plans for McKinley:
Tuesday's meeting was the last of 10 public input meetings held throughout the parish. McKinley is one of several schools with proposed construction projects that would be funded by the tax renewal.